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John Wooden On Leadership

How vast is the sea of leadership education?Wooden on Leadership.jpg

Recent search results: Google over 800 million results, You Tube over 5.3 million and Amazon over 218 thousand - that’s a lot of books!

Lately you’ve heard folks in your contractor support organization talking about the importance of sound leadership. You know this. You also know that courses taken in college and sporadic seminars attended over the years have little relevance today.

Where to start? Where should you launch your vessel and in which direction should you sail?


Your contractor support organization is a good place to explore.

Theoretically these organizations are run by folks who are dialed into your industry and business. They should have intricate knowledge of what it takes to lead your company coworkers, vision-building along with leadership nuances that are native to your field. In addition to organization leaders, membership in your organization should be bursting with folks who have blazed trails of business success and who possess and are willing to share leadership skills.


Start with the basics.

If you’re someone just beginning to delve into leadership literature or someone who has read enough to get confused, consider starting with the basics.

Start with college basketball coach John Wooden. The first step to all of Coach’s NCAA championships (10) began with teaching his players basic basketball fundamentals and personal values. Condition first. Learn skills without the basketball. Learn skills with the basketball. Then learn X’s and O’s.

How basic did Coach get? He taught his young recruits the correct way to put on socks.

In our world this means not pulling out a leadership case study from Harvard Business School (this would be X’s and O’s) or the latest book written by a PhD business guru.

Personally, I can’t get enough of Coach; leadership lessons abound in all of his works. But for those who do not have the luxury of reading-without-fences, Coach’s book, Wooden on Leadership is for you.

Wooden on Leadership is Peter Drucker-clear, concise and coherent. It includes a comprehensive look into his famed Pyramid of Success and at the end of each chapter he summarizes lessons under Rules to Lead By.


Here are some of my favorite ones:

  • Before you can lead others, you must be able to lead yourself.
  • Leadership success begins with a solid foundation.
  • Do not fear failure or punish initiative.
  • Never allow anyone else to define your success.
  • Character starts with little things.
  • Seek out opportunities to show you care.
  • Remember that a good demonstration tops a great description.
  • Seek players who will make the best team rather than the best players.
  • Sloppiness breeds sloppiness.
  • Remember that a great quarter in basketball or business starts with a great minute.
  • Make sure all praise is genuine and appropriate.
  • Believe in the hidden potential of all.
  • Stop saying “no” and start asking “how?”
  • Long term success requires short term focus.
  • Always assume adversity.



Coach’s take on effort is priceless and beyond telling:

“...my success comes not from championships, but the knowledge that I did everything possible to be the best teacher, coach and leader I was capable of being. The quality of that effort is where I found - and continue to find - success. Those championships were a “by-product.”


Are you doing everything possible to be the best that you can be?

What are you not presently doing to be the best leader possible?


Topics: Leadership

Posted by Dave Rothacker on Feb 12, 2017 5:02:00 AM

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